WP-DaVinci 2.0 Premium WordPress Theme Now Available

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We’ve made several upgrades to WP-DaVinci, and I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about the major ones. If you’re using WP-DaVinci already, you’ll want to read over this to see what you’ll need to do to upgrade. Don’t worry though. It should be a relatively easy upgrade.

If you’d like, you can check out the demo site first here.

1. Overhauled Image Handling

For several reasons, we eliminated the Timthumb script and replaced it with native WordPress functionality. We’re still using the Get the Image (GTI) plugin, but we’ve built it into the theme to make install and set-up easier for our users.

You may wonder why we still use GTI plugin with the theme, and the simple reason is that many of our existing customers don’t use the built-in WordPress Featured Image function. For those folks, the GTI plugin will extract an image from the post (or page) and use it as the post thumbnail or featured image.

What To Do Upon Upgrade or Initial Install

After you install and activate the theme, you’ll be taken directly to the Theme Settings page. There, you’ll see a link to regenerate your post thumbnails. You’ll want to click that link and on the following page, click the Regenerate All Thumbnails button. It should only take a minute or so, depending on how many images you have on your site, and it will ensure your post images are sized correctly for the theme.

If you’re not doing so already, you’ll want to use the WordPress Featured Image function going forward. This will ensure that all your post thumbnails and Featured Article images are a consistent size.

The “Featured Image” metabox should show up on the Edit Post and Edit Page screens. If it isn’t, make sure “Featured Image” is enabled in the screen options on the top right corner of your WordPress dashboard.

2. Mobile-Friendly, Responsive Design

Like most of our recent themes, WP-DaVinci is built to respond to the browser size of your site visitor. That way, your site will look great no matter what sort of device it’s viewed on.

What To Do Upon Upgrade or Initial Install

Nothing much for you to do here. The theme should handle all the heavy lifting for you. That said, if you’ve made customizations to an earlier version of WP-DaVinci, you’ll want to copy those over to the custom.css file in DaVinci 2.0. If you’ve made style changes via the Theme Settings page, those should transfer automatically.

3. Separated Subscribe Box Widget and Social Media Icons Widget

This is a relatively small change, but we’ve moved the social media icons out of the Subscribe Box widget and given them their own Social Media Icons widget.

What To Do Upon Upgrade or Initial Install

Just know these are now two separate widgets, so you’ll want to be sure to add the Social Media Icons widget, in addition to the Subscribe Box widget.

4. Redesigned the Default Style

We created a new default style for the theme. It’s the one you are viewing now. The previous default style is still available via the Theme Settings page under the Basic Site Settings. It’s style4.css under the Alternate Stylesheet field.

What To Do Upon Upgrade or Initial Install

If you liked the previous default style and would like to keep it as the design for your site, simply go to the Theme Settings page and select it under Basic Site setting.

5. Redesigned the Header/Logo Area

Because of the responsive design elements, we had reconfigure the header/logo area. If you’re currently using a full-width header image, along with a 468×60 banner ad in the header, this could prove to be a problem for you. If this is the case, please post the issue on the support forum, and we’ll do as much as we can to help you find a solution.

6. Redesigned the Featured Videos Slider

Again, because of the responsive design elements, we had to rework the featured video slider. If you’re attached to the previous version of the Featured Videos slider, let us know in the forum, and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

7. Added Some New Page Templates

We added a few new Page templates, which you can see on the demo site.

That about covers it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post a comment below. If you have any support-related questions, please login to the Solostream Member’s area and click the Support Forum link.

If Upgrading, Be Sure to Update Your Custom Menus

If you are upgrading from a previous version of WP-DaVinci, you will likely have to visit the Menus panel in your WP dashboard and re-assign your custom menus.

WP-Responsive Premium WordPress Theme

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Solostream is pleased to announce the release of WP-Responsive, a new premium WordPress theme designed mainly for folks who have or want to launch a business website. As its name suggests, this theme responds to your visitor’s screen size. That way, your site looks great on all sorts of devices – from laptops and desktops to tablets (e.g. iPads) and smartphones (e.g. iPhones).

If you’re already a Solostream Premium Themes member, you can find the download link on the member’s page after you login.

Check out the demo site here

wp-responsive premium wordpress theme

New Premium WordPress Theme: WP-ClearPhoto 1.0

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Solostream is pleased to announce the release of WP-ClearPhoto 1.0, a new premium WordPress theme designed mainly for photography enthusiasts or anyone who has a portfolio of projects to show the world. With its clean, elegant design, it’s the perfect container to show off your great work, while its built-in versatility and added features also make it suitable for a business blog, website or online magazine.

If you’re already a Solostream Premium Themes member, you can find the download link on the member’s page after you login.

Check out the demo site here

Introducing the Solostream Premium Themes Membership (And Other Interesting Changes)

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Over this past summer, we examined how best to improve our products and services for Solostream customers. We reviewed all aspects of our company including products, development, marketing, technical support, custom work support, communications, etc.

This self-examination led us to conclude that – while we’re doing a good job – there is definitely room for improvement. Therefore, as of today, we’re implementing some exciting changes that we hope will deliver overwhelming value and the highest possible level of support. Here’s a summary of the changes.

1. Solostream Premium Themes Membership

All our premium WordPress themes are now available exclusively via this membership option. This means that for one low price – starting at $59 – you can have access to all our premium themes. We consider this an overwhelming value because you can get all 20 of our premium themes for less than the previous price of a single theme. In fact, if you do the math, it works out to less than $2.00 per theme.

While your membership is active, you’ll have unlimited access to all premium themes, free theme upgrades and free access to our excellent support community. There are additional benefits available for customers who choose the Silver (6-month) and Gold (12-month) memberships. These benefits include:

  • Free access to new themes (at least 1 new theme per month).
  • Access to Photoshop PSD files.
  • Special tutorials.
  • 20% discount on Solostream services, such as custom design work.

Click here to view a table with all membership options.

2. Solostream Themes Are Now Fully Licensed Under GPL

If you’re not familiar with the GPL (GNU General Public License), the biggest benefit to you as a customer is that you’ll be free to use your Solostream themes on an unlimited numbers of sites/projects. From our perspective, it brings our company and products more in line with WordPress – which is licensed under GPL – and we believe this will enable us to create new and more meaningful relationships within the WordPress community.

3. Support Forum Overhaul

While the present system has served our active community well, we’ve been searching for a tool that can provide our customers with better answers and faster delivery. Through our search, we discovered a relatively new tool called Zendesk, which we have been testing for several months with our custom work customers. The biggest benefits of Zendesk for you will be:

  • When you type a question in the forums, this tool will search our knowledgebase/forums automatically and pull up related topics to help you find your answer as soon as possible.
  • As part of Zendesk, there is a ticketing system that will enable streamlined communications so you will be able to better track the resolution of your support requests and custom work orders.

Options for Existing Solostream Theme Owners

First, take a deep breath and have confidence that we’ve thought with deep concern about your situation. You will have the opportunity to choose from two options going forward.

Option 1 – Convert Your Existing License to a Membership

If you’ve purchased a Solostream theme in the past, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade to the new Solostream Premium Themes Membership at a greatly reduced rate. We’ll be sending you a special Gold (12-Month) Membership upgrade offer via email later today, so watch your inbox for it.

Option 2 – Keep Your Existing License As It Is

If you prefer to keep your existing license with unlimited upgrades and lifetime support, you’re free to do so. The only difference that you’ll notice is that you will now need to use the new support system. A major plus will be the ability to login to the Solostream Member’s Area, and download the latest copy of a theme without having to make a request to the support team. We’ll send your login information via email later today.

Concluding Thoughts

We’ve provided a lot of important information to you today. We’ll continue to do our best to provide more details as we move forward, but we didn’t want it to be overwhelming at this time.

I was recently in a hotel undergoing a renovation that posted the usual “Please Pardon Our Appearance” signs in the lobby. As cliche as it sounds, we’re going to ask the same of you today. I hate doing it, but it accurately reflects the reality. We’re making all these changes to improve your experience with Solostream and WordPress, and we’re doing everything we can to mesh our new tools into a smooth running operation. We have made our best efforts to get it right from the start, but inevitably there will be a few bumps in the road. Please be patient.

Finally, if you want to get a sense of what this has all felt like for our team, pull out a copy of the movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and remember to “be excellent to each other.”

WP-Mystique – Premium WordPress Theme

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We recently launched WP-Mystique as the newest addition to our collection of premium WordPress themes. Like all of our recent themes, WP-Mystique is built on the WP-DaVinci platform, so it’s complete with all the cool, little options you’ve come to expect – stuff like:

  • two different featured content sliders
  • alternate home page template and featured page slider for business sites
  • featured videos slider
  • featured photo galleries slider
  • multiple page layouts
  • a slick theme settings page
  • and much, much more.

Heck, we even threw in 12 different color options for you. All-in-all, we think you’ll find it a flexible and elegant little package to power your WordPress site. Check out the demo site here.

Industry Recognition for Solostream WordPress Themes

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We recently received some nice accolades and would like to share it with you.

We’re pleased to inform everyone that Solostream has been awarded and recommended as a Best Web Tool provider by WebHostingSearch.com and these are the words of recognition directly from them. As part of this recommendation, Solostream has been added to their directory of recommended product and service providers.

“Solostream has been awarded and recommended as a Best Web Tool and Development resource for providing outstanding Premium WordPress Themes in building your WordPress Powered website. This award is given by Web Hosting Search, a leading company in providing best reviews for top web hosting sites and reliable resource for web development.”

Video: How to Use WP-Elegance to Make Your WordPress Home Page Look Like a Business Website Rather Than a Blog

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We recently upgraded WP-Elegance to make it more useful to folks who want to use WordPress as a business website rather than blog or online magazine. In this short video, I show you the exact steps that will transform your WordPress home page into a business home page rather than a blog home page. You can see the end result on the WP-Elegance theme demo site.

Upgrade to Business Class With the WP-Elegance Premium WordPress Theme

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If you’re looking for the perfect theme to power your WordPress business site, we just put the finishing touches on some great new features that make WP-Elegance (demo site) the perfect choice. Here’s a screenshot showing the (new) Widgetized Home Page Template with the (new) Featured Pages slider (see description below screenshot).

New WP-Elegance Features

Featured Pages Slider - this feature allows you to select specific WordPress pages (rather than posts) via the Theme Settings Page, and display them in a slider on your home page, a single post page or a static page.

Featured Page Widget - This is a simple widget that allows you to place a featured page in any of the widgetized areas, such as the sidebars, footer or the new widgetized home page template (see below). The widget gives you controls to add a thumbnail, page title, page content/excerpt and a “read more” link. Thumbnails can be aligned left, right or at the top of the excerpt.

Widgetized Home Page Template – Maybe you want your home page to look more like a business website instead of a blog. If so, this alternate home page template gives you 3 widgetized columns where you’re free to display whatever content you like via widgets. Add the Featured Pages slider to the top, and you’ve got yourself a slick looking business home page.

Image Attachment Template/Photo Gallery – If you like to show photo galleries on your WordPress site, you’ll love this new addition. See here for an example.

WP-Elegance – Premium WordPress Theme

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WP-Elegance Premium WordPress Themes

WP-Elegance is the latest addition to our collection of Premium WordPress Themes. With this latest offering, our mission was to give you the power and flexibility of our popular WP-DaVinci framework all wrapped up in a sexy design that exudes style, grace and beauty. Time will tell how well we did of course, but we’re very happy with the result, and the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

As I said, WP-Elegance is more than just a pretty face. You also get a powerful theme settings panel (click thumbnail to the right) that makes it simple to customize the look and feel with the click of your mouse. Not to mention the multiple post and page layouts that can be controlled on a post-by-post or page-by-page basis. That’s not all, of course. Among the many other options, you also get:

  • 10 built-in color options (that are easy to modify via the theme setting page).
  • Multiple featured content modules.
  • Multiple built-in banner ad spaces.

Go ahead, and check out the full list of options here. We think you’ll be impressed.

Escape From WordPress Post Editor Prison With Windows Live Writer

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I Love You WordPress, But We Gotta Talk

WordPress is a phenomenal web-publishing platform, and I love using it. Mostly. There’s one thing I seriously dislike about it though – writing posts within the WordPress dashboard. If I had a dime for every time I’ve walked away from my computer feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by this issue, there’d be an alarming shortage of dimes circulating the U.S.

First off, when I try to write something in the WordPress post editor, I feel thoroughly confined; like trying to breakdance inside a cardboard box. Not that I’ve done much breakdancing, and certainly never inside a box, but I assume it would be a rather unpleasant experience (if you happen to be a cardboard-box-breakdancer, feel free to debunk my assumption).

The other problem for me is distraction. It’s usually a challenge for me to write under the best of circumstances, but when my visual field is bombarded by the dizzying array of links, buttons, checkboxes and empty fields available in the WP dashboard, it’s like … fuhgeddaboudit.

Yes, I’ve tried some of the common tricks to overcome these problems. First, for example, I increased the height of the post box from the default 10 lines to 20 lines. You can do this in your WP dashboard under Settings >> Writing. It was a good start, but still far from optimal; just breakdancing in a slightly bigger box.

Then I tried using fullscreen mode when writing posts. This function is available only when writing in Visual mode (rather than HTML mode). It’s activated via the little, blue button on the toolbar next to the spellcheck button. With fullscreen mode, your enlarge the post editor box to cover the entire area of your screen.

That was a better approach, but it went too far in the other direction. I can’t stand to see text spread across the full width of my screen. The other problem with fullscreen mode is you have to switch back to normal editing mode whenever you want to save your draft, which I do a lot.

Windows Live Writer to the Rescue

In my effort to find a better way, I asked almighty Google to give me a solution, and of course she did (with a memory like that, Google has to be a woman). Of all the reviews and tutorials I found on the subject of “desktop blog editors, Windows Live Writer, again and again, was pronounced the cream of the crop. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. It’s free.
  2. Easy to install and set-up.
  3. Allows you to manage multiple blogs on multiple platforms (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc).
  4. Clean, uncluttered interface.
  5. Complete WYSIWYG editing functionality.
  6. Excellent image editing functionality.
  7. Several cool, little extras like word count and spell check.

That’s a short list, and I also decided to do a brief screencast below to show you a bit more about it. Once you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d suggest you run right over, download Windows Love Live Writer, and start using it. I’m sure it’ll give you a new lease on your blogging life. It has for me.